Capital Crusaders (0-1, 0-0 OAC) vs. Marietta Pioneers (1-0, 0-0 OAC)
Saturday, September 8, 3:30 pm | Don Drumm Stadium (Marietta, Ohio)
SCOUTING THE PIONEERS
Darrien Fields returns for another year as the Pioneers' quarterback after back-to-back seasons of 1,700 or more yards passing. Last year he tossed for 21 TDs and 10 INTs and a 67 percent passing rate. In his first action as the lone feature back, RB Tanner Clark ran 19 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns against Geneva College (Pa.), last week. He runs behind two all-conference linemen from a year ago in Caleb Riggleman and Brendan Mulholland, though the Pioneers have needed to find a replacement for its all-conference center. Tre Weiler has stepped up thus far. Junior WR Andrew Barker stepped up as Fields number one target in week one with four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Fields found six different receivers in that game.
On the defensive side, senior LB Garrett Davis returns as the Pioneers' leading tackler with 86 a year ago. The pass defense was its strong suit in 2017 and looks to be that way again after holding Geneva to just 59 yards through the air on 3-of-10 passes last week. They also picked off one pass in the win. They surrendered more than 300 yards rushing to Geneva in week one and averaged nearly 200 yards per game allowed on the ground per game in 2017.
HISTORY WITH MARIETTA
Capital has lost its last two meetings against Marietta and two of the last three have been decided by one score. Prior to their loss in 2016, the Crusaders had won 15 straight matchups against the Pioneers.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET ...
... the Pioneers ran Roger Walker as much as they could, putting the ball in his hands 29 times for 224 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Darrien Fields complemented that with 17 completions for 169 yards and two touchdowns. The game was just a two-score game going into the fourth quarter, but the Pioneers then rattled off 21 points to Capital's seven to break away in a 49-21 Marietta victory. There was a combined 954 total yards of offense. Each defense forced two turnovers in the game, one fumble and one interception each.
Capital has a strong duo to lead the team into Saturday gamedays. The following individuals will serve as captains this season, as voted on by the team:
#13 Cory Heeter, RB, Sr.
#17 Thomas Wibbeler, QB, Sr.
GIVE HIM A HUNDIE
Last week at Mount St. Joseph, junior WR David Barnett made a career-high 10 catches and racked up 100 yards. It marked the seventh time in his career he has hit 100 receiving yards or more in a single game. He did so three times in 2016 and three more in 2017. Side note: he also made two TD grabs in the game, marking the sixth multi-TD game of his career.
NOT JUST A PUNTER
Junior Wyatt Pertuset came to Capital as a wide receiver. As a sophomore, he was asked to double up and become Capital's punter, a position he also played in high school (North Union High School). He then missed his sophomore season with a lisfranc fracture in his foot. Now he is back as a junior, ready to go. In his first action since his freshman year, Pertuset caught his first career touchdown pass at Mount St. Joseph (9/1) and finished with three grabs for 53 yards. He also had five punts with two landing inside the 20-yard line.
Following week one, Capital is one of just 39 Division III football teams to not commit a turnover - which ranks them #1 in the country in that category.
WIBBS' WINDING ROAD
Senior Thomas Wibbeler is back for his third year as Cap's starting quarterback. Despite the numbers, which earned him second team All-OAC honors in 2017, it hasn't come easy. Wibbeler transferred from Ohio Dominican (Division II) after limited playing time. In his first year with Cap, he sustained a season-ending knee injury against John Carroll (10/22/16). Prior to the injury, Wibbeler completed 114-of-214 passes (53.3%) for 1,556 yards and 11 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He became just the third (and now fourth) CU quarterback to hit 1,500 yards passing in a single season since 2003. In his return to the lineup in the 2017 season opener against Mount St. Joseph, he went 21-for-42 for 261 yards with three touchdown passes and three interceptions. He reunited with former high school (and ODU) teammate Dar Stanford and with his help went on to toss for 2,813 yards, 29 TDs and 9 INTs.
WIBBELER MARKS UP THE RECORD BOOK
Senior QB Thomas Wibbeler had one of the best seasons for a Capital quarterback in nearly a decade, as a junior in 2017.
(single season, 2017)
5th in passing yards - 2,813 yards
2nd in passing TDs - 27 (1st, Rocky Pentello, 36)
6th in completions - 216
He has already tied the school record for TD passes in a game (6) set by Shawn Wheeler in 1999. He is also tied for the sixth-longest pass play in school history (75 yards).
FIRST TIME SINCE '09
In 2016, senior QB Thomas Wibbeler became just the third Capital quarterback to reach 1,500 yards passing. That mark was reached just before he endured a season-ending injury against John Carroll in game six of the season. Last season against BW, Wibbeler became the first 2,000 yard passer since Marty Assman (2,382 yards, 2009). He finished the year with 2,813 yards, 29 passing touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Those are the best numbers for a Capital quarterback since 2010 when Chase Carris threw for 1,905 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 picks.
WELCOME TO THE 'DAR SIDE'
What makes a quarterback happy? More weapons to throw to! Dartavious (Dar) Stanford joined the Crusaders prior to the 2017 season after playing the last two years at nearby Ohio Dominican University (NCAA Division II) as a wide receiver. At ODU in 2016, he was the Panthers' second-leading receiver after making 60 grabs for 687 yards and four touchdowns.
In his Capital debut, Stanford made four catches for 70 yards and recorded his first touchdown grab with Cap in the team's loss to Mount St. Joseph on Sept. 2. He finished the year with seven straight games with 100+ yards receiving and eight overall. He has found the end zone in each of the last five games and 12 times overall this season. He was held without a touchdown grab in just one game in 2017.
MIDDLETON BEGINS NEW PAT STREAK
Sophomore kicker Blake Middleton made 18 consecutive PATs in his debut season and went 30-for-33 overall. He made all three PATs in Capital's week one loss at Mount St. Joseph. Dating back to last year, Middleton has now made five straight PATs to feed into a new streak.
HEETER RETURNING FOR FIFTH YEAR
Senior RB Cory Heeter will return to the Capital sidelines for a fifth year after missing most of the 2017 season due to an arm injury sustained against Wilmington College on 9/23/17. To open the 2017 season on Sept. 2, Heeter racked up 171 total yards, 85 of those on the ground on 16 touches. He then came back versus the Muskies on 9/16 and tallied 99 yards on the ground, which helped him eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in his career.
WELCOME TO THE PARTY!
Capital is welcoming 42 new Crusaders to the team as the 2018 season opens. This includes 39 freshmen, two transfers and one newcomer to the program. Defensive backs Avery Sylvester (JR) and Mike Smith (FR) transferred into Capital while senior OL Courtney Mays joined the program in the offseason. Sylvester comes to Capital from Iowa Wesleyan University while Smith joins the team from nearby Ohio Dominican University (Division II). He is now the third ODU transfer to join Capital on the current roster.
It's not often that one town, or one high school can provide a college team such a significant portion of a team's offense (or defense for that matter). This year, Zanesville and Hilliard are two nearby cities that will have a major impact on Capital's starting lineup, all on the offensive side of the ball.
QB Thomas Wibbeler and WR Dar Stanford go back to their youth days throwing and catching passes to one another. Both are from Zanesville, Ohio and played on the Zanesville High School football team that advance all the way to the final four of the 2013 state championship.
The CU offensive line will feature not one, not two, but THREE Hilliard Darby High School graduates. Sophomores Josh Boyle and Nick Russell both earned starting nods in their second seasons while center Logan Hernon is now in his second season as the team's starting center.
SEEING DOUBLE, TWO SETS OF TWINS
Thank goodness for numbers on jerseys or you may not be able to tell apart two sets of twins that are on the Capital football team. Sophomores Michael (LB) and Matthew (DL) Lauofo make it even more difficult being on the same side of the ball. Seniors Cory (DL) and Courtney (OL) Mays line it up in the trenches, but on opposite sides. Michael Lauofo and Cory Mays look to serve as starters for Cap to begin the season.
SWITCHING IT UP!
A couple of Capital's players made some changes in their game and their positions in the offseason.
SO Kobe Swackhammer, LB to DL
r-SO Jake Elsayed, CB to S
JR Kole Carter, DB to LB
JR Will Futrell, DL to OL
NFL'er ADDED TO CAP COACHING STAFF
Capital's coaching staff brought a big man with some big-time experience to the table. Keith Rucker, an NFL veteran that played six years professionally, was hired to handle the defensive line. Rucker was named All-American 14 times over the course of his collegiate career at Ohio Wesleyan as both a football player and a thrower on the OWU track & field team. He is also serving as the throws coach on Capital's track & field team.
LAST YEAR'S ALL-OAC'ers
Five Capital football players earned All-OAC honors after last year's season. After a phenomenal debut year, WR Dar Stanford was tabbed first team honors, marking the first time a Capital player earned that high of an honor since 2011 (LB Troy Spiker, WR Matt White). QB Thomas Wibbeler earned second team laurels after putting up the best numbers for a CU quarterback in nearly a decade. Recent graduate and offensive lineman Zack Kennedy '18 was named second team, as well. CB LaShaun Sanders Jr. and WR David Barnett each earned All-OAC Honorable Mention.
PRESEASON POLLS TAB CAP NINTH
At this year's OAC Football Media Day, the coaches and media member were polled to see their views on how they believe the season will play out. Capital Football was tabbed to finish ninth by the coaches, and the media.
Polls are just polls, but here they are:
COACHES: 1. Mount Union (81, 9), 2. JCU (73, 1), 3. Ohio Northern (61), 4. Baldwin Wallace (56), 5. Heidelberg (49), 6. Marietta (44), 7. Otterbein (32), 8. Wilmington (22), 9. Capital (19), 10. Wilmington (13).
MEDIA: 1. Mount Union (310, 31), 2. JCU (274), 3. Ohio Northern (223), 4. Heidelberg (206), 5. Baldwin Wallace (205), 6. Marietta (149), 7. Otterbein (140), 8. Muskingum (75), 9. Capital (74), 10. Wilmington (49).
For complete coverage from media day, including interviews with SR wide receiver Dar Stanford, SR quarterback Thomas Wibbeler, plus Head Coach Chad Rogosheske, please visit: athletics.capital.edu/sports/fball/index